Stressed? Laugh to Stay One Tough Cream Puff

a store display of many stuffed plush toys of Kirby, the pink Nintendo game character
Image by Anthony Easton / CC BY

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”

Brené Brown

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The hardest part of the recent political climate has been the need to toughen up without hardening on the inside. Like a hard candy. But the kind with a creamy center. Because the last thing I would want to do is lose my inner softness.

I come from a long line of New England stoics. Taciturn and hard-working. Bearing pain in silence. Without complaint. Moving forward. And while this is one form of badassery (being the strong silent type), there’s certainly many other forms of strength.

My whole life I’ve had others tell me that apologizing is weakness. And to be strong is to keep your cards close to your chest. Never let them know what you’re thinking (Aaron Burr, eat your heart out).

But that’s not the whole story. The interesting thing about vulnerability? It’s really a form of strength.

Think about it — it’s the true bad ass who charges into battle without their armor. The ninja. And yes, the absentminded.

Truth is a lot of us have been absentminded these days. Our attention towards between an endless variety of instant entertainment. And the pull of the Big Issues. Trying to strike that balance in news consumption to stay informed without succumbing to existential angst.

It can be tempting in such an environment to be all work, no play.

But don’t. What you could use is a good laugh.

When Things Get Tough, Remember to Laugh

Laughter keeps us strong without sacrificing our vulnerability, our ability to truly connect with other people.

And laughter’s best agent is playfulness. Together laughter and playfulness keep us resilient and strong.

As Al Siebert writes in The Survivor Personality:

Playing and laughing go together. Playing keeps you in contact with what is happening around you. A playful spirit lets you maintain an attitude of “This situation is my toy. I’ll play with it as I wish.

Another advantage of playful humor is that it allows you to redefine the situation emotionally. The person who makes humorous observations is relaxed, alert, and focused outward on the situation to be dealt with. Engaging in playful humor may lead to a creative solution.

The person who toys with the situation creates an inner feeling of “This is my plaything. I’m bigger than it. I can toy with it as I wish. I won’t let it scare me. I’m going to have fun with this.

 

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